Abilene Texas

After Shreveport, LA, next stop Abilene Texas. Please keep in mind that Dad (that would be me) had root canal surgery done in Shreveport and was up most of the night freezing my jaw with ice and taking Tylenol. Jackie drove this entire leg of the trip, while old Dad sat in the passenger seat moaning in pain. Since Jackie drove the entire trip (approximately 5-6 hours depending on stops), and I was in pain, this trip seemed to go on forever. Abilene Texas

Five hours into the trip, I asked Jackie, “How much further to Abilene?” (the equivalent of “are we there yet?”) Her response, “About an hour.” After what seemed like an eternity driving to Abilene, Texas, I asked her again “How much further to Abilene?” Her response, “About an hour.” This repeated several times, until she became irritated (maybe I am irritating on long drives?) and pointed out that I was asking her every two minutes. Abilene Texas

This ended up being our trip mantra. Every time we got tired and impatient during a drive from one location to the next, one of us would invariably ask “How much further to Abilene?”, and we’d either laugh or cry, depending on the situation, and repeat in unison “Only one more hour to Abilene.” Abilene Texas

We finally arrived at the Marriott, Jackie unloaded the Outback, and we settled in. There were two main attractions that had been placed on our itinerary for Abilene, Texas, the Frontier Texas Museum and the Dr. Seuss Statue Park. My tooth was feeling better, so the next morning we headed out for the museum. Abilene Texas

To get to the museum, we found ourselves driving through a completely abandoned and desolate part of Abilene. We were on what appeared to be a major highway, but surrounded for miles by boarded-up buildings of all types, industrial, tenements, stores, you name it. It was kind of scary, but well worth the trip. The museum did not disappoint. Abilene Texas

It started when we entered the building and I went to the rest room. I walked in, approached one of the urinals, and it said “Howdy Partner. How ya’ doing this fine day?” It was unsettling being addressed in that polite manner by a urinal, to be addressed by a urinal at all really. I looked around randomly, and finally responded “I’m fine, Partner.” I didn’t want to be impolite. Abilene Texas

As I left, one of the commodes said, “Have a nice time. Enjoy the show.” I hurried out the door, convinced I was having some sort of stroke or hallucination. I asked my daughter if the toilet in her bathroom had given her a friendly greeting, and she said, “Dad, are you having some sort of stroke or hallucination?” Abilene Texas

Since I didn’t have the guts to ask the cashier if the urinals in the men’s room were in the habit of greeting the customers, I’ll never know for sure if this really happened or not. Although, I’m pretty sure that it did. I’ve had no further hallucinations or evidence of stroke since that day. Abilene Texas

We bought our tickets, and entered the museum through a small theater where we watched a brief movie about the wild west. A really uplifting movie, it recalled how the white man’s move west resulted in the killing of many native Americans and virtually all the buffalo. Apparently some guy named J. Wright Mooar, from Vermont of all places, moved out west, bought one of the first so-called buffalo guns, and proceeded to kill every buffalo in sight for the pelts. He made lots of money, his brother eventually joined him, and buffalo bones also became a priceless commodity. So, they apparently killed every last buffalo in that part of the west. Abilene Texas

Somewhat disoriented, what with the friendly urinal and the excruciatingly depressing movie, we moved on into the museum. We saw a taxidermied buffalo, presumably the last one left from the rampaging Mooar brothers, a huge pile of buffalo skulls, and several examples of buffalo rifles. This part of the exhibit culminated with a photo of good old J. Wright Mooar, the pillar of the buffalo extinction business community. The exhibit also pointed out that the native Americans depended heavily on the buffalo for food and clothing, and the buffalo’s extinction was a major inconvenience to them, so there’s that. Abilene Texas

We walked around a corner, and were confronted by a cowboy bartender. He asked us what we’d like to drink. Then, he continued by telling us he was Pat Garrett, bartender by day. That night he intended to sneak into Billy the Kids room on the second floor of the saloon and kill him in cold blood. I asked him why he felt compelled to do this, but he just ignored my question and kept on talking. I told my daughter, “The urinal was a lot politer than this guy.” Abilene Texas

My daughter pointed out that this was one of the famous holograms found in the museum. I looked closer, and sure enough, this was a hologram of a man. The reality of the thing was astounding. Old Pat was standing right there, behind the bar, speaking to us as clearly as day, with all the characteristics, mannerisms and appearance of a real person. I guess these holograms were my favorite part of Abilene. Abilene Texas

One hologram appeared as a blacksmith, making horseshoes. There was an Indian Chief, a local politician, an Indian squaw, and a woman with quite a story. Abilene Texas

She had gone out west with her husband, gotten kidnapped by an Indian chief, kept as his wife for seven years, and then escaped. After managing to reorient herself back into civilized society, she had married a farmer, who had been killed by Indians three years later. She was currently living on the farm alone, looking for another husband to help with the chores. Abilene Texas

Her story impressed the heck out of me. The entire museum made me really grateful that I am living in the 21st century and not the Wild, Wild West. We may have problems today, but those holograms had suffered mightily. Abilene Texas

We completed our tour of the museum and headed for the Outback. Jackie drove, and I got in the passenger seat and looked around to make sure there were no holograms or friendly urinals in the back seat, following us home. Then I found out that it wasn’t time to go back to the Marriott yet. Jackie had planned for us to visit the Dr. Seuss Statue Park that same afternoon. Abilene Texas

After a half hour’s drive, we found ourselves in a very nice part of Abilene, apparently a new downtown area. The buildings all looked brand new, the streets were clean, and there was a beautiful and extremely well cared-for city park. Jackie led the way to the first statue on the park tour, the Cat-in-the-Hat. This pretty park consisted of beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs lining a path that led from one famous Dr. Seuss character to another. We wondered through the park for over an hour. Abilene Texas

The afternoon was beautiful, if a little warm, and I got to meet almost every character from every Dr. Seuss book that I had ever read to my three daughters. Their favorite was Hop on Pop and I must have read that thing a zillion times between the three of them. My least favorite was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, they knew I didn’t like reading that one, and so they asked for it more than Hop on Pop. I should put that on a list of irritating things they did to me. (Well, they have lists, don’t they?). Abilene Texas

I was exhausted by the end of the day, and I drove us back to our Marriott. This is where we discovered a slight flaw in our trip plans. We had made advanced reservations throughout the trip at either Courtyard Marriotts (more business oriented) or Fairfield Inn Marriotts (family oriented with free breakfast). Our trip on the southern route was mainly Courtyard Marriotts. Abilene Texas

When we arrived back at the hotel, we went to the room and found that none of our room keys would work. We were tired, frustrated and angry with the Marriott staff…until we realized our mistake. All Courtyard Marriotts are identical inside, with the exception that some of them are mirror images of the others. We had gone to the room number from our previous stay in Shreveport, and since they all look alike, it never dawned on us that the mistake was ours. Abilene Texas

After apologizing to the nice lady at the reservations desk, we took a nap. I am sorry to report that this is not the only time that this mistake was made. I must confess, it was usually me, but I am the “broad picture guy.” Abilene Texas

Stay tuned next week for Jackie’s version of our stop in Abilene. I’m sure she’ll agree completely with my perception of the visit. Meanwhile, you could buy a copy of MURDER BY ROAD TRIP. It’s funny, provides a great mystery, and you can also see how much of our trip actually ended up in the book. The book is available on Amazon https://amzn.to/2HauHCg)  Barnes & Noble https://bit.ly/35lISh6 and Indie Books https://bit.ly/2I95at8

And if you’re ever in Abilene at the Frontier Texas Museum, tell that friendly urinal that I said hi.